Detroit — With some pitchers — Justin Verlander, for example — you worry about giving them extra rest between starts. Some pitchers, like Verlander, are committed and beholden to their routine and even an extra day off can throw them out of whack, if even for an inning.
With Michael Fulmer, who will start Thursday with one more day of rest than usual, history says it is not an issue. Here is his breakdown:
■ Six days of rest or more: 3-3, 2.91 ERA, 1.11 WHIP.
■ Five days rest: 8-2, 2.61, .099.
■ Four days (normal) of rest or less: 6-4, 3.48, 1.22.
“You just have to take advantage of the extra day,” Fulmer said on Wednesday. “I had a little harder workout in the gym. I did more upper- body work, more lower body work, as opposed to my normal, five-day routine.”
Manager Brad Ausmus used the team’s two off-days at beginning of this month to realign his rotation to give Fulmer an extra day. This will be his second straight start with an extra day in between.
“I like guys getting rest especially early in the season,” Ausmus said. “That way you can count on using them more on regular every five days in the latter part of the season.”
But this isn’t like last season where the Tigers are trying to limit Fulmer’s innings. They are just trying to keep him fresh and strong. He’s thrown 196 pitches in 15 innings in his last two starts.
He said the extra rest is a mixed blessing.
“It gets you off your routine a little bit,” Fulmer said. “An extra day is always good sometimes. But I like to take the ball every fifth day, just like every other starting pitcher. You develop a routine, you know when your body is peaking for your bullpen session and when it peaks again for the start.
“But as long as I feel good on starting day, I’m going to take the ball, give 110 percent and compete.”
Whatever program Fulmer has been on, it’s working. Not only is he putting up All-Star worthy numbers this season, the velocity on his fastball has increased steadily throughout his 11 starts.
He was at 94-95 mph in April, 96-97 May and, in his last start, his average velocity was pushing 98 mph (97.9). He was asked if that steady increase was a result of a fresh arm or the purity of his mechanics.
“A little bit of both,” he said. “I feel like I am getting stronger. I feel like I am finally getting toward peaking. Back in spring training I started a little later. I know last year I peaked in April and I got tired in the second half of the season.
“So, I think I am peaking at the right time. My body feels great and that’s a big part of (the velocity spike) …The velocity, I am happy it’s back up there. I think it is good mechanics, good shoulder program and a lot of off-field stuff.”
About those All-Star creds: He presently ranks ninth in the American League in ERA (3.00), eighth in WHIP (1.1) and his 2.2 WAR ranks seventh among pitchers. His 10 quality starts is tied for the most in the American League.
“I feel good,” Fulmer said. “I’m just going out and pitching like I have my whole career.”